The Arizona Coyotes sure made their last game in Glendale a memorable one.
In their last-ever game at Gila River Arena, the Coyotes rallied from a four-goal deficit en route to a 5-4 win against the Nashville Predators in front of a raucous 15,123 fans on Friday. Shayne Gostisbehere scored twice — including the game-winner, — along with Travis Boyd, Michael Carcone, and Jack McBain, as Arizona put on a show in front of its second-largest crowd of the season.
The Coyotes finished the season by earning seven of a possible eight points, including three straight wins against teams heading to the playoffs. The victory was the first (and only) time Arizona has rallied from a four-goal deficit while calling Gila River Arena home, considering the last time they accomplished that feat was in a 6-5 overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 8, 2002.
Talk about memorable.
Coyotes Rally, Upend Playoff-Bound Predators
Friday’s game got off to an ugly start after the Predators scored four goals in the game’s first seven minutes, chasing starter Karel Vejmelka early in the game. Backup Harri Sateri, who entered Friday’s game with a goals-against average (GAA) of 5.14 and save percentage (SV%) of .838, stopped all 27 shots he faced in relief, helping the Coyotes send their fans home happy in the last game of the season.
With Sateri in net, the Coyotes played with confidence the rest of the way, and gradually chipped away at Nashville’s lead en route to the comeback win. Carcone scored as time expired on a power play just 1:51 into the third period before Gostisbehere fired a rocket past Predators netminder Connor Ingram following Alex Galchenyuk’s face off win, sending the near-sellout crowd into a frenzy.
Once Gostisbehere’s game-winner went in, the party was on.
“That was electric out there tonight,” Boyd said. “God, it was fun.”
“[Galchenyuk] told me on the first goal, he goes, ‘If I line up against a righty, I’m pretty confident I’m going to win it, I’m going to win it a little wide,” Gostisbehere said. “I trusted him again, and, yeah, I just put my head down and shot it. You’ve seen a couple of my goals lately, they’ve been going off everything, so why not just shoot everything?”
Arizona held on from there, as Sateri played lights out to help the Coyotes finish their tenure in Glendale in storybook fashion. Coach André Tourigny was pleased with the club’s effort following its lackluster start.
“A little bit like our season, I guess — slow start, finish strong,” he said. “I think that showed a lot of the character of our team, and how much they care for each other and they care for our fans.”
Coupled with a Dallas Stars win, the Predators dropped to the second and final wild card spot, and will face the Western Conference’s top-seeded Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the playoffs.
Boyd Caps Career Year
Travis Boyd, who inked a 2-year extension in March, notched his 17th goal of the season on Friday, leaving any of his previous career-bests in the dust. He recorded 35 points on 17 goals and 18 assists in 73 games this season, besting his previous career-best of 20 points set in 2018-19 with the Washington Capitals.
Boyd scored in three straight games to finish the season.
“I think if I’m really being honest, the amount of confidence I have in my own game has really taken off this year,” Boyd said. “That’s why I’m so excited to come back and start next year, because I’m going to be starting from a completely different point than where I was.”
Gostisbehere enjoyed a career renaissance of his own this season, posting 51 points on 14 goals and 37 assists while playing all 82 games this season. It was the 29-year-old’s best season since notching 65 points with the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2017-18 season.
He has one year remaining on his contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent following the 2022-23 season.
“There’s a lot of positives going forward,” he said. “Obviously, we weren’t set up to be the dynamo team. Obviously, it’s a rebuild for a reason, and I think a lot of guys took steps forward, not only on the ice, but off the ice.”
Coyotes Head to the Offeseason, then Tempe
Little is known about how the next few seasons will go for the Coyotes, who continue to await word from the Tempe City Council on their RFP response to build a new sports and entertainment district. They’re set to start next season at Arizona State University’s brand new multi-purpose arena, which will open its doors this fall.
Still, Friday’s game was a night to celebrate following such an emotional win, and the Coyotes soaked in the playoff-like atmosphere as they rallied. The crowd was on its feet for the last two minutes of the game, cheering on Arizona as it held on for its 25th win of the season.
“I think it shows we really do have good fans down here,” Boyd said. “We’ve got passionate fans who care and who really love the Coyotes and God, it was a fun game tonight and I look forward to playing in a lot of fun games next year. I think tonight was a perfect example.”
Next stop, Tempe.
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A die-hard hockey fan in the desert, and proud Iowa State alum. Detroit Red Wings and Arizona Coyotes contributor for The Hockey Writers.